I’ve continued to spend every possible moment at the Caribbean Genealogy Library hoping to completely document the comings and goings of my various family groups here on the island. But genealogy doesn’t work that way. Every fact you confirm raises two more questions to be answered. I’ve been fortunate to have some guidance from Lani and Dr. Caron. I only wish I could stay longer.
In between library hours Jack and I wandered the streets of Charlotte Amalie exploring alleyways and visiting historic sites that my ancestors may have frequented. We found this compound that was owned by my great-great-great grandmother from 1805 to 1824.
After we exhausted my legacy we visited most of the houses of worship that were here during the beginning of the 19th century, starting with the lovely synagogue.
The marble floor is covered in sand, and a video we watched suggested a few possible explanations. There are even more possible reasons here. In any case, this is one of only five sand floor synagogues in the world.
We made our way to All Saints Episcopal Church, where my Liggett family were baptized. It’s a beautiful building in the classic style we’ve come to appreciate. The yellow bricks were brought to the island in Danish ships as ballast and the dark gray stone is local.
From the street it wasn’t apparent to me where the entrance was but there were school kids at recess in the playground so I walked over to a teacher in the doorway to the cafeteria and asked if it was possible to visit the church.
“Yes,” she said. “The entrance is on the other side” and she pointed to a middle school-age boy. “Show the lady where the door is.” Immediately his face fell and he sunk deep in embarrassment.
“Awww. He doesn’t want to do it,” I said, mostly to myself.
“It’s ok,” he said, but his head hung low as we started off through the groups of kids in the playground. A wave of silence followed us as we walked, especially when we turned a corner and interrupted some boys playing basketball. No one said a word but I had the feeling the poor kid would have a hard time living this humiliation down. He took me right to the church entrance though, even when I could clearly see the way myself. I thanked him and he smiled a little, then made a beeline back to the playground.
I loved the conch shell on the table behind the last pew and I imagine maybe it’s blown to call the faithful to prayer.
There were more churches and graveyards and general wanderings around a town we’re really enjoying in all its steamy, crumbling chaos.